This is 7 Easy Woodworking Joints for Beginners. Woodworking joints can range from really simple to extremely complex. In the beginning, all you need are some easy ways to joint two pieces of wood together. These require very little practice, and can get you making things really quickly.
Making Things From Wood
Unless all of your projects are made from one piece of wood, at some point you are going to need to learn how to put two pieces of wood together. Thankfully, this is an easy process to learn even for a beginner.
This post is not about traditional joints. It’s about a simple construction style joints that use easy processes and common tools. These are great joints, and you will end up using them throughout your woodworking career.
Depending on your project, you will be able to decide which joint to use, and when. Many can be used interchangeably, which is great depending on the tools you have available. Here they are…
Butt Joint and Glue
One of the simplest joints in all of woodworking is just gluing the edge of one piece to the edge or face so another piece. This is a butt joint, and it literally just requires you to butt one piece of wood up to the other.
This is a great joint for making large boxes, cabinets, and square or rectangle woodworking projects. Simply apply a layer of glue on the areas of wood that will be joined together, and then clamp them to dry.
After the glue has dried, the boards will be secure. At that point, you remove the clamps, and then add your next piece. If you look at what you are making, you can probably get at least a couple butt joints going at the same time.
Butt Joint and Brad Nails
Taking the butt joint to the next level is the butt joint and brad nails. Brad nails are like small clamps, and you should think of them that way. If you do not have the time or the patience to wait for glue to dry, this one can help you quite a bit.
If you have to do a lot of case building or butt joint style building, you can skip all of the wait time by using brad nails. essentially, the process is the same as the process for the regular butt joint and glue, the only difference is the brad nails.
Apply glue between the pieces, and line them up. Start on one end and fire in a single bard nail, which creates kind of a hinge. Move a few inches forward and slide the pieces using the hinge if necessary until the boards align. Fire another nail, and repeat the process until you get to the end of the joint.
The nice thing about doing the butt joint with brad nails is that you can align the boards as you go, using nails to keep them secure. Once you get to the end, your boards will line up perfectly, because you essentially walk the joint all the way to the end, lining it up as you move.
Another beginner woodworking joint is screws. This joinery method is very easy, and all you need are drill bits, screws, and a drill. The process works really well for when you need to secure lumber together, like 2x4s or 4x4s.
Pilot a hole through the top board in the stack. This is the one that will have the head of the screw resting on the surface after it has been drilled through. Make this hole just large enough that the screw can pass through without getting caught.
The reason for the bigger pilot hole is so that the screw threads bite the bottom board, and pull it towards the top board. The top board needs to have a pass through pilot hole, otherwise the screw threads can catch both sides, and there will be a gap in the boards.
Line up your pieces that you want to attach with screws, and make your pilot holes. Then, drop the screws into place, and screw them in. When you sink the head just below the surface of the wood, you will create enough pressure to hold the two pieces together.
Look at each situation and decide on the number of screws. There is no penalty for using more than you think you need, just don’t go nuts for no reason. Most of the time, a couple wood screws through the ends of a 2×4 are enough to hold a piece at a 90 degree angle.
Nails have fallen out of fashion somewhat since screws came around, but they are still used by many woodworkers. They do require a bit more sweat to use, since you have to hammer them in, but they are still a strong way of holding things together.
You might run into a situation where you need to hold something together and you want to see the heads of the nails on the project. This is a good reason to use nails. Another good reason is that you just like the joinery method, and that’s fine too.
When you buy nails, look for a product that is made for what you are doing. There are nails for all kinds of things, like finishing nails, construction nails, and roofing nails. Each has a purpose, and they can be used to hold things together for you.
I don’t use nails too often. However, when you are doing certain projects like an outdoor table, bird house, or something similar, nails are a good way to keep your boards in place. If you want to, you can also set the heads below the surface and fill the dents with wood putty to conceal them.
The Kreg Jig
One of the best things to happen to hobby woodworkers is the Kreg Jig. This is a pocket hole jig that allows you to install a screw through two pieces of wood at an angle. The pieces are pulled together, and they remain flat.
Pocket hole joinery is great for flat items like cabinet face frames. In a case like this, you lay out your pieces flat on your bench, and screw them together. Instead of going in through the ends, you make pocket holes right where the pieces meet, and fire in your screws. The normal process is two screws per joint.
One thing that you need to do if you get a Kreg jig is to make sure you clamp down the pieces at the joint before you screw in the screws. This will help guide the screw where it needs to go, and prevent the pieces from becoming uneven.
If you are new to woodworking, and you want a reliable and easy way to attach one piece of wood to another, the Kreg jig is really a good start. Again, make sure to buy the Kreg clamp, or use a bar clamp, but for the low price of the system it’s worth the purchase to have it.
See Also: Woodworking Tips Cards – The Kreg Jig
Taking the joining process back in time, you can use dowels to stiffen a joint and make it stronger than without the dowels. This is great any time that you are joining together a couple pieces of wood with glue only, and will make the joint stronger.
If you create a bunch of butt joints, you can make then even stronger and also make them look better by using dowels. All you have to do is drill a hole that is the same width as the dowel, drip some glue into the hole (making sure to coat the sides of the hole), and hammer in the dowel.
Most dowels are a tiny bit smaller than the size listed on the piece. For example, a quarter inch dowel may be closer to 0.240” which is great, because that will give you a little room. Try to get the glue to slide down the sides of the hole too, and rotate the dowel as you press it in.
When you rotate the dowel as you tap it with a hammer, it causes the glue to smear around and get all over the dowel and the hole. This increases your glue contact area, and makes the dowel hold in place better.
Leave the dowel a little taller than the surface of the piece, and let the glue dry. This is easiest if you hammer in a dowel that is a little longer than the hole depth. This way, you can bottom out the dowel and not worry about the other half. Simply daw off the excess and sand the end flush once the glue has dried, and you are done.
See Also: 13 Myths About Getting Into Woodworking
Though a kind of butt joint, the miter joint is a 45 degree joining of two pieces of wood that creates a 90 degree angle. Think of a picture frame, with four of these joints, one in each corner.
You can glue or screw a miter joint, and there are also other methods of keeping it secure that you can use. The biggest trick is getting the meters to all add up. Over eight pieces, a small error in the angle of the cut can result in a big gap that makes the joint look bad.
The trick is to set the saw a little under 45 degrees, and then make a set of pieces as a test. Look at the four pieces once you assemble them, and see if you have gaps. If you do, adjust the saw and cut the pieces again. Line them up, and keep on doing this until you end up with four pieces that make a square, without any gaps.
This is the setting on your saw that makes perfect miters. It will likely not be the setting that the factory calls 45 degrees, because even those are wrong a lot of the time. If you have a better saw, then you have a better chance of getting a good miter with one of these stops, but odds are you will need to do a little playing to get it right.
Your homework is to try out some of these easy joinery methods for beginners. If you are just starting out, the way you join pieces of wood together is how you will end up making a lot of your projects. Thankfully, it does not need to be difficult.
Look at some of these and see if any of them can be used on your projects. If you are already working from a book, you might have directions for other joints, and those are good too. It’s all about getting you off the couch and into the shop.
Joinery can be complicated, but it does not have to be. Even these simple joints are really strong, and they make great projects. Try some of them out, and see how easy it is to get started in woodworking.
See Also: A Beginners Guide to Woodworking
7 Easy Woodworking Joints for Beginners Wrap-Up
In the beginning, Woodworking can be overwhelming. There is a lot to learn, and a lot of decisions that you have to make. When it comes to you joinery, thankfully there are easy methods that you can start with right away.
The butt joint is a classic in woodworking. If you can bring two pieces of wood together and get some glue in between them, you can make a but joint. Make sure that the pieces mate well, and you will have a successful joint.
To speed things up you can add brad nails to your joints, and you can also use a Kreg Jig. Both of these options are great, and they can give you a few, low entry fee methods of putting your project pieces together.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
My Beginners Guide to Woodworking is a great start for anyone looking to get into woodworking and avoid making mistakes.
You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.